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Witnessing paternal marital violence would moderate the association between psychologically controlling behaviors and physical violence so that the association would be stronger for individuals who had witnessed paternal marital violence (Ronfeldt 73).
Researchers usually specify observational learning as the process whereby parents influence the probability that their children will be violent in intimate relationships.
The study of dating violence is important for two reasons.
First, such behavior often results in physical and emotional injury.
Childhood exposure to family violence, whether marital violence or harsh parenting, is seen as providing lessons that facilitate aggression toward romantic partners.
Exposure to any form of family violence is seen as promoting attitudes that increase the probability that children will grow up to behave aggressively toward a romantic partner.
The most popular explanation for dating violence is that it is a learned behavior acquired in the family origin.
Witnessing parents’ marital aggression or being the victim of harsh corporal punishment may greatly increase the chances that a child will grow up to use violence in a dating relationship (Simons 468).
Criminological research suggests that antisocial tendencies tend to emerge in childhood.
Some describe the learning process as one of imitation; others emphasize lessons about the legitimacy of violence in intimate relationships.
The imitation explanation asserts that children learn about romantic relationships by observing interactions between their parents (Simons 468).
Unfortunately, there has been little effort to apply this criminological perspective to dating violence.
Growing up in a violent family indirectly increases the probability of dating violence by promoting a generally aggressive orientation toward people (Simons 470).